Houston Social Security
Disability Attorney

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Photo of David Dopkin

Do you know how Social Security defines “severe” medical issues?

On Behalf of | Mar 21, 2019 | Firm News

Language can be ambiguous sometimes. Two people may hear the same word and have different interpretations of its true meaning. That can lead to a lot of confusion, especially when the interpretation of a few words can impact whether you receive certain benefits or not.

For those who believe they need Social Security Disability benefits, the application process can often prove quite daunting. Really understanding what qualifies a person for disability can help take some of the anxiety out of the application process.

The Social Security Administration has a broad definition for disability. This approach is logical, as any number of conditions could lead to a disability. Instead of simply listing a few diagnoses that qualify an individual, the approach is instead to qualify when various medical conditions become a disability.

Only severe medical conditions qualify for disability benefits

The word severe means harsh or intense. Some people may think that there is wiggle room for interpretation here, but they may find themselves disappointed when they finally submit an application. For the Social Security Administration, severe typically means that it impacts your ability to perform basic functions and work. Examples of functions considered basic include:

  • Sitting
  • Standing
  • Remembering
  • Lifting
  • Walking

If a medical condition does not impact your ability to perform these tasks, it has to have a provable impact on your ability to work or care for yourself. If you can’t work or take care of yourself independently, you may qualify. In some cases, a diagnosis with a severe progressive condition can lead to an applicant qualifying. Barring that, you likely won’t meet the criteria for a severe injury or illness.

Your condition must persist for 12 months or more

In addition to being severe, the symptoms you experience must be persistent. They can’t simply go away after a few weeks. The official guidance provided by the Social Security Administration is that the symptoms must impact your life for at least 12 months.

If you can easily prove that the medical condition is permanent, you do not necessarily have to wait a full 12 months before applying for disability. However, the requirement for 12 months of symptoms can be a source of issues for many applicants. Applying before you qualify could mean unnecessary work, frustration and expense. It could also cause issues for future applications.

Speaking with an attorney when you know you want to apply for Social Security Disability in Texas is in your best interest. Your lawyer can give you guidance about when to apply and what to include in your application. More importantly, they can help you document your condition and file an appeal if you don’t receive benefits right away.